Fact from fiction

Tackling common assumptions about contact lens wear

Girl having a sight test

Myth 1: “My patients all had proper training when we fitted their contact lenses, so they all wash their hands”

No, they don’t. Less than half of our patients wash their hands before handling their contact lenses.

Studies have shown time and time again that our patients do not adhere to all the hygiene advice we give them. Every visit to the practice is an opportunity for all staff to reinforce the patient’s understanding of safety and contact lenses. This could be with a pre-exam questionnaire, a visual aid such as a poster or leaflet or just a chat about their habits. Remember that the experienced wearers may have forgotten the day they had their lenses fitted.

Proper handwashing takes at least 20 seconds and it is good practice to demonstrate this to all patients.

Direct them to the AOP’s handwashing video.

Myth 2: Big lenses = more pain

Great big, rigid scleral lenses are used for complex contact lens fitting, for example, if patients have a strange shaped cornea due to keratoconus, or have had a corneal transplant. But these big lenses are surprisingly comfortable.

A lot of the sensation in contact lens wear comes from the feeling of the back of the eyelid, tripping over the lens edge. Scleral lenses fit underneath the top and bottom lid and the lens rests on the tough, white part of the eye, the sclera, rather than on the cornea. When fitted well, patients often remark on how comfy they are.

Myth 3: “Kids shouldn't wear contact lenses – not while their eyes are still growing”

The only real barrier to children wearing contact lenses is the level of responsibility they will take for proper handling and hygiene. Their parents are probably the best judge of this. If a child takes the instructions seriously, there’s no reason why they can’t have contact lenses on the grounds of their age alone. Daily disposables remove the need for cleaning and storing the lenses, which makes them a good ‘starter’ lens. There’s no greater risk of contact lens-related infection in children than in adults and the cornea is not compromised by wearing them.

Image credit: CooperVision